Tweeds by region?


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Fowlescombe Manx Tweed is a very limited resource made from the wool of Rare Breed of Manx Loughtan Sheep, a multi horned breed native short tail breed, also known as Primitives. The type first known to be domesticated. The breeders nowadays collaborate when they can and have knitting wool and cloth made and the fleece is popular with hand spinners, so it is in very short supply. The meat is incredible.There is still a significant population in the Isle of Man, but a great number on the mainland.
Fowlescombe produce other derivatives too such as rugs. Their committment to promoting and making practical use of rare breeds is unbounded. Support them if you can.
A derivative breed of the Manx is the Castlemilk Moorit (there is a pic of one on our site). Originated by Sir Jock Buchanan Jardine on his Castlemilk Estate in Dumfrieshire. He wanted some Dun coloured sheep to match his Dun Galloway Cattle and look smart in the parkland. Rumour has it that he used to cull them by taking potshots from a window. The fine wool was used to make cloth to clothe he and his Ghillies, the suits often outlived them. They almost became extinct, there were only 10 left at one point. Similarly the breeders collaborate from time to time to produce cloth and knitting wool, its popular with hand spinners too.
Rare sheep breeds ( as listed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in the UK (RBST) /
and American Livestock Breeds in the USA (ALBC) are worthy of your attention, the range of cloth products offered by some breeders is very interesting, and if you buy from them, not only will you have a fairly uniques, natural often undyed cloth, you'll be helping them in a small way to keep going.Youmay even consider becoming a member of either of those organisations
At Bookster we would like to offer a Rare Breed cloth range, but as yet we are unable to source a consistent supply but we are working on it. Its wonderful stuff.

We have a small bolt of genuine vintage Manx Tweed ( not made from Manx Loughtan wool) illustrated on our site, you cannot order it from there but if interested just email us.

We are not tweed historians but may be able to make further contributions to this worthy thread

The Rambler

Honors Member
Bookster: thanks for your wonderful post, rich in particulars and anecdotes; and the link to the rbst: I will be making a modest donation. My projected tweed and whiskey tour is taking shape: it now includes frequent meals of roasted lamb, and, since I'll bring my fly rod, lots of fresh fish. All I need now is time and money. Your hacking jackets are worn and admired at our local hunt club, by the way.

Turban: brilliant post! I'm still chuckling.


Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I really would like to help - I've worn tweeds for most of my adult life but, rather foolishly, have not devoted time to finding out more about them. My understanding of West of England tweed is that there are (or more likely were) a number of isolated mills in Oxfordshire/Gloucestershire/Wiltshire, in slightly upland sheep areas such as the Windrush valley for example. Hines of Oxford made me a herringbone hacking jacket as a student which was West of England tweed, quite similar to Harris tweed. That eventually expired on a barbed wire fence just east of Stonehenge, then I had a quite different, much denser thornproof keeper tweed jacket for beagling and other blood sports which was also W of E tweed, so it's rather hard to say what really distinguishes W of E from any of the Yorkshire tweeds. Bookster still seem to have stocks of W of E flannel, but that's not tweed (obviously). My preference nowadays is for the Scottish district tweeds - I have a cousin in the Queen's Own Highlanders and I was very impressed to learn that they have their own regimental tweed for mufti.

We are unable to source any kind of West of England Tweed these days, one of the best mills was BLISS in the cotswolds. We come across vintage items made from Bliss cloth. Lots of vintage Pytchley and Lambourne hacking jackets and suits were made from West Of England twill tweed, a fairly thick cloth with quite a soft finish, beautiful.


Active Member with Corp. Privileges
For a lighter-weight tweed similar to Harris I recommend Breanish, although this isn't a regional tweed but a trade-name. It's made from shetland, cashmere, and similar lighter-weight cloths in the Hebrides, and in my experience is very high quality.

Derby tweed used to be very good, and it's still a very durable material. Unfortuantely, current Derby tweed is often a wool blend (with as little as 60% wool included), and while it is durable and tough it rapidly pills and looks rather poor. Good for working field clothes, perhaps (although you relaly should go for Keeper's tweed here), but not something I'd recommend.

I heartily agree, we don't offer it,it is hard wearing . fustian as designed but it feels horrible That said we do sell 'vintage' ones on our eBay site and they are popular.


Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Tweed may have enjoyed a small revival in recent years, but it's rumoured that the best tweeds are now available only from the better Savile Row establishments - carefully stored 70 year old bolts of tweed, from long defunct mills.

But visit Islay and Harris, the Highlands and Ireland too by all means. I came across the mill on Islay quite by chance, while on a private tour of whisky distilleries. It's quite a simple place:

View attachment 1222

If you click on it you can see it more clearly.
We LOVE Islay cloth. It is still very popular in Savile Row. Gordon has to stop weaving to speak to us when we call, its as real as it gets, beautiful cloth.


Active Member with Corp. Privileges
That's a shame (I'm referring to what you said earlier about West of England tweed, not Islay). Would you say, Bookster, that the supply of tweed is beginning to dry up? Or of good British cloth generally? I've been looking for some cavalry twill trousers for yonks, but the only sort of cav twill one seems to see is poor stuff - half the weight, and slightly shiney. It should be dense and flat.


Active Member with Corp. Privileges
That's a shame (I'm referring to what you said earlier about West of England tweed, not Islay). Would you say, Bookster, that the supply of tweed is beginning to dry up? Or of good British cloth generally? I've been looking for some cavalry twill trousers for yonks, but the only sort of cav twill one seems to see is poor stuff - half the weight, and slightly shiney. It should be dense and flat.
There have and probably always will be casualties, JG Hardy nearly disappeared a year or so ago but were sympathetically saved, the new owners didn't savage the range.
We are able to source very nice Cavalry Twill, and do for some customers, theres a limit to what we can offer online. I should reconsider it. I know exactly what you mean, a lot of easily sourced Cav Twill is Wool / Poly and very flimsy. The same has happened with Moleskin.The mass producers, inc the very well known names buy cloth from places like Italy. It has the look, but not the substance and after a few wears...........
It was continual disappointment with well known moleskin brands for myself that prompted us to make trousers other than our tweed and suitings. We don't make much on them as our individual make is so good and we pay top price for the cloth, but we are proud of them and they do compliment out jackets.
Although we are in tough times and people are having to be careful with money another factor is coming into play.....quality.
If they are going to spend money, more people want garments that will last and that they won't become disenchanted with.This is a important for makers like us, and the cloth merchants and weavers alike.So we should all be cautiosly optimistic, thats my take on the situation from the pointed end.
It should also be said, the sites like AAAC (AAAC in particular) with their global reach, are definitely making an impact that I think can only increase.
Praise be to our host I say


Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Ok ok - that's very good news. I would like some manilla/buff coloured cavalry twill trousers, but with a few refinements compared to the last trousers you made for me. Could you send me a swatch? (I'm your customer in Northampton - if that's not specific enough let me know and I will give you my full address. ) Thanks


Honors Member
Great thread, here is an article from 1955 Sports Illustrated

With less guile and equal acumen, the Scots mill-owners in Hawick and other borderland villages such as Galashiels and Peebles; the crofters in cottages on the islands of the Outer Hebrides—North Uist, Lewis and Harris—and on the windblown flatlands of the Shetland and Orkney island groups have for centuries produced tweeds of such quality and character that they have set the standard for all the world. Scottish tweeds are also as individual as the people who make them. Those made in the Shetland Islands are very soft, for the Shetland sheep is a scrawny animal which produces short and silky wool fiber. Like their Norse ancestors, the Shetlanders prefer the natural colors of wool to dyed ones. Most of their homespuns, hand-woven under primitive conditions in their cottages, are patterned with the various shades of gray and brown of their sheep. Shetland tweeds are extremely popular for American suits and sport jackets.

Harris tweed is produced by cottagers in the cold Outer Hebrides and is a much more rugged fabric, a mixture of wool of the Cheviot and Blackface sheep who thrive on those rocky islands. Colors are usually compounded from vegetation that grows around the crofters' cottages: rusty brown from lichens, green from heather. Made into topcoats and suits, sturdy Harris tweed has long been popular in the United States. Now that Harris tweeds are being woven in lighter weights, they have more uses and America buys half of the yearly output of five million yards.

The thriving mills of the Scottish borderlands create great variety in tweeds—both traditional patterns and the more colorful designs sought by the women's fashion markets. Here also are woven those "district checks" for shooting tweeds that a Scotsman values next to his kilts.

C. Sharp

Super Member
Orkney tweed appears at about 5min 48 sec into this film clip

Maybe a bit of a technicality, but at one time Lewis tweed was viewed as distinct from Harris tweed. (It seems as though now both sorts of tweed are considered forms of Harris tweed?) What sort of stylistic differences were there? Someone seems to be banking on some sort of difference, at least. Also, here is an interesting article on the history of Harris Tweed by Henry Alan Moisley.

I've also heard rumor of an Orkney tweed... Any info on the matter?

C. Sharp

Super Member
Paul Winston on T. Addie & Sons Shetland
example of T. Addie Shetland

When Harris isn't Harris-article by Tweedy Don

Harris Videos


(From a Shetland tweed jacket ala Andover Shop someone was trying to sell on Styleforum)

Usually softer than Harris (according to Chipp favorite ) and more expensive (forum favorite ). But what about style characteristics? Makers? Hunters of Brora was a big one, supposedly, but they no longer exist. Johnston's of Elgin says , though.


The famous one. Hand-woven (Always? Or was it once also machine-woven?), certified (circa 1909) and protected by an . Supposedly there are 3 mills left that have the blessings of the Harris Tweed Authority: Harris Tweed Hebrides, Harris Tweed Scotland Limited, and . But what are the style characteristics? Herringbone as standard, I suppose. Anything else? Are there any "non-certified" mills in the area?

Any other regions that have been overlooked? (Saxony, maybe?) Any mistakes so far? I honestly don't know anything about tweed, which is why I thought a discussion might be helpful. :eek:

Any thoughts or info would be greatly appreciated.
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